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Posts Tagged ‘finding the houses that sears built’

Another Mystery in Richmond!

March 14th, 2014 Sears Homes 16 comments

My blog on the Sears Houses in Richmond has gotten several hundred views in the last few days. I am tickled pink to see it, but I wish I knew what led folks to a 15-month old blog!

But in the meantime, I’ve made another *fascinating* discovery, which might lead me to a neighborhood of Sears Homes in Richmond!

Today, David Spriggs and I were doing research at the Norfolk Public Library, and I found this article (June 16, 1921) in the Richmond Times Dispatch. At first glance, it looks like another 1920s ad, but look closely.

Article

The "beautiful bungalow" shown in the advertisement is a Sears Elsmore.

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Check out the fine print.

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And you can buy “all the material necessary to build this charming bungalow” - from Sears!
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If you look closely at the house in the ad, youll see its a Sears Elsmore.

If you look closely at the house in the ad, you'll see it's a Sears "Elsmore." In fact, it's the picture right out of the Sears Modern Homes catalog!

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This is the picture used in the advertisement shown above.

This is the picture used in the advertisement shown above.

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Heres an Elsmore in Elgin, Illinois. Were any of these beautiful bungalows built in Richmond?

Here's an Elsmore in Elgin, Illinois. Were any of these "beautiful bungalows" built in Richmond?

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Perhaps someone familiar with Richmond can help me find this neighborhood! Was the builder successful in pitching these Sears kit homes to the people who bought his lots?

This could be fun!!  Please leave a comment below if you know where this area is!

To learn more about the Sears Homes I found in Richmond, click here.

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Permanent Furniture III: Bookcase Colonnades

December 4th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

In the early 1980s, my husband and I looked at an Aladdin Shadowlawn for sale in Chesapeake, Virginia. We both fell head-over-heels in love with the solid-oak bookcase colonnades between the living room and dining room.

It was just last week that I learned that, in the early 1900s, these enchanting built-ins were known as “Permanent Furniture.”

“Permanent furniture” (built-in cabinetry) was a brilliant concept. The more “permanent furniture” present in a house, the less “temporary furniture” the new homeowners would need to purchase. And all these built-ins really did make best-possible use of small spaces.

To read more about permanent furniture, click here or here.

As always, thanks to Norfolk historian and librarian Bill Inge for sharing his wonderful old architecture books with moi!

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House

More than 30 years ago, we looked in the windows of this Aladdin Shadowlawn in Chesapeake, Virginia (near Chesapeake Square Mall) and caught a glimpse of the solid oak built-in bookcase colonnades and fell hopelessly in love. There's something about "permanent furniture" in old houses that still makes me swoon.

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The Aladdin Shadowlawn had beautiful built-in bookcase colonnades.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn came with beautiful built-in bookcase colonnades (1919 catalog).

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These colonnades appeared in the Sears Roebuck Building Materials catalog (1921).

These colonnades appeared in the Sears Roebuck "Building Materials" catalog (1921). Pretty basic and very plain and no shelving or bookcases. And who's Carlton? My guess is that he's someone that wasn't well liked at Sears. Maybe it started out as a practical joke. "Let's name those really boring colonnades after that boring guy, Carlton who never does anything but stand around and look goofy," and before they knew it, the $34 colonnades were listed in the Sears catalog as "Carlton Colonnades."

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1921

For $82.50, you could buy a colonnade that actually had a practical purpose (unlike Carlton).

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The

The Sears Osborn featured these bookcase colonnades with either wooden muntins or leaded glass doors (1919).

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No sooner had I returned Bill Inges 1927 Builders Woodworking catalog than he loaned me this little treasure. It was full of - colonnades!

No sooner had I returned Bill Inge's 1927 Builders' Woodworking catalog than he loaned me this little treasure, "Building With Assurance; Morgan Millwork." It was full of - colonnades! It was published in 1923.

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And the first page of the Colonnade Chapter offered some interesting insights as to why we love colonnades.

And the first page of the Colonnade Chapter offered some interesting insights as to why we love colonnades: "It's an imitation of nature itself." BTW, check out the lovebird logo.

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Nice

Nice way to dress up a doorway!

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house

These colonnades are simple, but quite attractive. That rug looks like a trip hazard, though. The dining room furniture looks like it came out of a dollhouse. The proportions are skewed.

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Aon d

Apparently Morgan had their own line of Carlton Colonnades.

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test

Much more ornate, and bigger bookcases, too. The original caption reads, "This Morgan standardized design offers a fine opportunity for tasty decoration with jardinieres, statuary, bric-a-brac, etc." I had to look up "jardinieres," because I've read a lot of books in my life but I have never seen that word. Turns out, "jardinieres" is a female gardener, allegedly. I'm not sure that even the most progressive 1920s housewife would be too keen on the idea of using built-in bookcases to store female gardeners.

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house

This one's my favorite: Rugged, sturdy, spacious and a built-in desk, too.

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That desk is pretty cool, even if he does have a lot of bills hidden inside of it.

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Another beautiful colonnade, but in use as a china hutch!

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A real-life bookcase colonnade in a Sears Hazelton in Oklahoma. Photo is copyright 2010 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

A real-life bookcase colonnade in a Sears Hazelton in Oklahoma. (Photo is copyright 2010 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. No foolin'.)

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To read about the Sears Magnolia we found in West Virginia, click here.

To read more about built-ins, click here.

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A Sad Story That Needs a Good Ending: Carlinville’s “Standard Addition”

September 26th, 2013 Sears Homes 5 comments

In the early years of the 1900s,

About 1918, Standard Oil purchased 192 kit homes from Sears & Roebuck. Carlinville ended up with 156 of these homes (offered in eight models). The 12-block area where these homes were built (in an old wheat field) came to be known as Standard Addition. Sears proudly touted this sale to Standard Oil as "the largest order ever placed," and pictures of Carlinville appeared in the front pages of the Modern Homes catalog for many years. This letter (shown above) appeared on the back page of the catalog until 1929.

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House

Standard Addition's homes - some of which were not wholly finished - appeared in the 1919 and 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Of the 192 houses sold to Standard Oil, 156 ended up in Carlinville, 24 were sent to Wood River (where Standard Oil had a large refinery) and 12 ended up in Schoper, IL (site of a large coal mine). Pictured above is the Warrenton model (left) and the Whitehall (right).

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In 1921, images of the completed neighborhood first appeared in the Searsm Modern Homes catalog.

In 1921, images of the completed neighborhood appeared in the Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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house house house 1921

Close-up of the "birdseye view" from the 1921 catalog. From left to right is the Gladstone, Roseberry, Warrenton, and Whitehall. And look at that darling little building behind the Whitehall. Is it still there?

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House

These homes were occasionally featured in "The Stanolind Record," an employee newsletter put out by Standard Oil. This image appeared with the caption, "Carlinville is coming out of the mud," which simply meant that streets would soon be laid, replacing the muddy roads.

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All of which brings me to the point of this blog. Standard Addition is at great risk of being lost.

And all the photos above bring me to the point of this blog. Standard Addition - this unique, historic and one-of-a-kind community - is at great risk. This "Roseberry" on Johnson Street caught fire in early 2013 and has not been razed yet. Derelict houses (such as this) contribute heavily to blight, and once blight takes root in a neighborhood, reversal can take decades. At best, this house poses a threat to public health and safety. At worst, it's an anchor that's dragging this historic neighborhood further into the muck. Would you want to live next door to this? How many months before this house gets torn down?

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Last month

Last month, a suspected meth lab was discovered in the 1000-block of Johnson Street, in the heart of Standard Addition. Once a house is used for "cooking" meth, making it suitable again for habitation can be expensive.

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Full story here: http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x1367241203/Two-suspected-meth-labs-found-in-Carlinville

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And theres also the problem on insensitive remodeling.

And there's also the problem of insensitive remodeling. And it is quite a problem.

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Another

As built, these homes were very small (less than 1,100 square feet) but there are ways to increase square footage without diminishing the historicity of these unique homes.

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In short, it’s time for the state legislature and/or city council to step in and figure out what legislation is needed to protect this one-of-a-kind historic collection of Sears Homes in Carlinville. I’ve remained “astonished* that there is no signage, no billboards, no announcements of any kind welcoming the flat-lander tourist to come visit “Standard Addition.”

At the very least, there should be billboards in St. Louis, Alton (by the casino), Edwardsville and other “hot spots” inviting people to come see this fun collection of kit homes. There should be a website, self-guided driving brochures, maps, etc, promoting the area.

But there is nothing,

In my 14 years of experience in this niche field of America’s architectural history, I’ve never come across another collection of Sears kit homes quite like Standard Addition.

One week ago today, I drove through Standard Addition, admiring the pretty houses and dismayed by the blighted ones, and I glimpsed, more now than ever, something must be done to preserve and protect this neighborhood.

Before it’s too late.

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To learn more about the eight models in Standard Addition, click here.

To learn more about the building of Standard Addition (and the female supervisor of the project), click here.

In 2003, CBS Sunday Morning News came to Standard Addition.

To read about Illinois’ own ghost town (Schoper, IL), click right here.

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The Crescent: “For Folks Who Like a Touch of Individuality”

January 28th, 2013 Sears Homes 8 comments

The Crescent was a very popular kit house for Sears, and I’d venture to guess that it was one of their top ten most popular designs.

It was offered in two floorplans (Mama-sized and Papa-sized) and with an optional extra-high roof (Grandpapa sized).

Because of this, Crescents can be found in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the pitch of the porch roof was changed to be more proportionate to the primary roof. Today, this results in all manner of confusion about whether or not a Crescent is the real deal.

Below are several examples of Sears Crescents from all over the country.

House 1

Sears Crescent, as seen in the 1929 Modern Homes catalog.

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House 2

"Interior Views" of the Crescent (1929).

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kitchen 1929

Close-up of the Crescent's kitchen (1929).

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LR 1929

Nice looking living room, too!

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Bed

The bedrooms weren't' this big but why let details get in the way of a nice story?

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The Crescent was offered with two floorplans.

The Crescent was offered with two floorplans, C33258A (shown here).

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And this

And this C3259A (the larger floorplan). Note it has THREE columns on the front porch.

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Adding a dormer to the optional finished second floor would have created a lot more space.

Adding a couple dormers (on the front) to the optional "finished" second floor would have created a lot more space. The finished second floor was only offered with the smaller Crescent. But that does not mean that someone couldn't finish off the 2nd floor on their own!

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Glen Ellyn

Glen Ellyn (Illinois) has a Crescent with three dormer windows.

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Ypsilanti Andrew Mutch

This dormered Crescent is in Ypsilanti. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Ypsilanti Andrew Mutch

In Ypsilanti, they like their Crescents with dormers! Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Godfrey

A sad little Crescent waits for death in Godfrey, IL. Again, note the unique angle of the porch roof. This has also been authenticated as a Sears Home.

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Raleigh

A picture-perfect Crescent in Raleigh. The dormers were original to the house.

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West Point

Some Crescents have very steep porch roofs and some have very shallow. This Crescent in West Point has been authenticated by Rose as the real deal.

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Atlanta Crescent

This Crescent look-a-like is in Atlanta. I suspect it is NOT a Crescent.

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Crescent Wheaton

A Sears Crescent in Wheaton, IL.

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Eastern Shore MD

Hubby and I found this Crescent on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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Elmhurst IL

Is this a Sears Crescent? It's in Elmhurst IL.

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Crescent Elgin

This poor Crescent in Elgin, IL has had a hurting put on it. Rebecca Hunter has authenticated this house as a Sears Crescent.

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Elgin

It's been remodeled, but you can still see it's a Crescent. (Elgin, Illinois)

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Elgins also

This Crescent is also in Elgin, IL.

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Elgins also

Elgin Illinois has the largest known collection of Sears Homes in the country. They have a lot of Sears Crescents, too!

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Crystal Lake

Not surprisingly, the Chicago suburbs are full of Sears Homes. This one is in Crystal Lake.

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Champaign

Another beautiful Crescent. This one is in Champaign, IL.

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house Charlotte

I stalked this house for 30 solid minutes, but the young woman on the porch never did hang up the phone, so in desperation, I snapped a photo of the house, phone caller and all. This beauty is in Charlotte, NC.

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Chharlotte

A perfect Crescent in Charlotte, NC.

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Bloomginton

This Crescent also has the less-steep pitch on the porch roof, but it's most likely a Sears Crescent. Notice the medallion inside the front porch (on the wall).

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Bloomington

This photo was taken in 2003 (and it was scanned from an old slide) and it's in Bloomington, IL.

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Wood Riiver

Is this a Crescent? The pitch of the porch roof is much less than that of the traditional porch roof in other Crescents, but I'd be inclined to say it probably is a Crescent. This house is in Wood River, Illinois.

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Alton

This Crescent has a dramatically raised second floor. To compensate for the extra steep pitch of the roof, the porch roof was also raised a bit. This beauty is in Alton, Illinois.

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Ypsilanti

Yet another dormered Crescent is in Ypsilanti. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And one of my favorites: A beautiul and well-loved Crescent in Webster Groves, MO (near St. Louis).

A beautiful and well-loved Crescent in Webster Groves, MO (near St. Louis). Again, look at the variation on the pitch of that porch roof, and yet this is an authenticated Sears Home.

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house Wilmette, IL Rebecca

Now this house has some dormers! It's in Illinois, and was discovered by Rebecca Hunter. Photo is copyright 2013 Rebecca Hunter and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Crescent was a perennial favorite aand was offered from 1919 to 1933.

The Crescent was a perennial favorite and was offered from 1919 to 1933. It's shown here in the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

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Sears Homes in Richmond! What a Bonanza!

January 11th, 2013 Sears Homes 17 comments

An update!  Today I *may* have inadvertently discovered an entire neighborhood of Sears Homes in Richmond!!! Click here to learn more!

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Last week, I traveled to Richmond on an errand for a friend. I had a little extra time on my hands so I decided to drive around in “just one” neighborhood and my oh my, I found several Sears Homes in just a few blocks!

I had only a good hour of search time, so hopefully I can return soon and do more looking.

However, Richmond, Virginia is a very large city and it’d be helpful to know where I might find the neighborhoods that were developed in the first years of the 20th Century.

And if you’re new to this site, you may be asking, what is a Sears kit home? These were 12,000-piece kits that you could order out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. Each “kit” came with a 75-page instruction book and detailed blueprints, specifically designed for the novice home-builder.

These were complete kits, and came with all the paint, wood putty, coat hooks, towel racks, lumber, roofing shingles, gutter hardware, and nails that you would need. Plumbing, heating and electrical systems were not included in the kit, but could be ordered separately.

During their 32 years in the kit house business (1908-1940), Sears sold 70,000 of these kits in all 48 states. Today, the only way to find them is literally one by one.

And if you’re a regular visitor to this site, you may be wondering, how did Richmond, Virginia end up with so many kit homes? That’s what I’d like to know!!  :)

And how many more are out there, just longing to be discovered!

There’s a new mystery in Richmond! (March 14, 2014)  Click here to learn more!

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And one final note, more than 90% of the folks living IN a Sears House didn’t know what they had until I knocked on their door and told them. So there in Richmond, lots of people are in for lots of pleasant surprises!!

Enjoy the photos below, and if you know of a Sears House in Richmond, send me a note!

Should I start with my favorite? Above is a picture of the Sears Sherburne, from the 1921 Building Materials catalog. It was a spacious, grand house and Ive not seen many of these.

Should I start with my favorite? Above is a picture of the Sears Sherburne, from the 1921 Building Materials catalog. It was a spacious, grand house and I've not seen many of these.

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And here it is, looking much like it did when built in the early 1920s.

And here it is, looking much like it did when built in the late 1910s or early 1920s. What a house! And it came from a kit!

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And despite this being a fairly rare model of Sears Kit House, I found a second one, within a few blocks of the first house! And its also a real beauty!

And despite this being a fairly rare model of Sears Kit House, I found a second one, within a few blocks of the first house! And it's also a real beauty! Notice the dramatic cornice returns extending well over the front porch area.

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The big surprise of this excursion was this house, the Sears Avalon.

The big surprise of this excursion was this house, the Sears Avalon. This was another unusually fine and somewhat hard-to-find kit house offered by Sears. Prior to Richmond, I'd only seen maybe five Avalons throughout the country. And yet, in Richmond, I found FIVE within one seven-block area. FIVE Avalons! What in the world??

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Heres another view of the Avalon from the 1921 catalog.

Here's another view of the Avalon from the 1921 catalog. Notice the three square vents on the gabled porch roof (far left) and the small indent in the chimney. Also notice the small attic window over the porch. See how the porch columns are mostly masonry with a little bit of wooden column? These are all distinctive features.

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And the floor plans could be reversed, to take advantage of better lighting on the site.

And the floor plans could be "reversed," to take advantage of better lighting on the site.

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Wow. Just wow. One of the most perfect Sears Avalons, right here in Richmond. Wow.

Wow. Just wow. One of the most perfect Sears Avalons, right here in Richmond. Wow.

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Wow, isn’t that exciting to see such a perfect match to an old Sears catalog page? And whomever owns this house, really loves it. Wow!  :)

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Avalon #1 was on Semmes Avenue, near 30th Street.

Avalon #2 was on Semmes Avenue, near 30th Street. This house also has those three vents on the gabled end of the porch. In that this house has stucco, the porch columns were a little different, but that's a minor alteration and not significant in identifying this as an Avalon.

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Avalon #3. Im very happy that Richmond has so many Avalons that theyre to be numbered for identification.

Avalon #3. I'm very happy that Richmond has so many Avalons that they're to be numbered for identification. This was also retains its original railings.

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How cool!

How cool! Pretty amazing, isn't it!

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Avalon #4

Avalon #4. Turns out, most of these Avalons face due West, so I was photographing right into the morning sun. Some of these pictures aren't the best, but one has to do what one has to do! This house was on Riverside Drive. That's my hand at the upper left, trying to behave like a sun shield.

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Avalon #5. Despite its modifications and alterations, Im fairly confident that this is a Sears Avalon.

Avalon #5. Despite its modifications and alterations, I'm fairly confident that this is a Sears Avalon. The roof has been raised, giving it a higher pitch, and creating a small indented space in front of that attic window, but if you look at the details, you can see this looks like a Sears Avalon. Unfortunately due to sidewalk construction, I was not able to get a better photo.

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So that’s FIVE Avalons in this one small section of Richmond. FIVE. Prior to this, I’d only seen five Avalons in all my travels. Now I’ve seen 10. :)

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But theres still more. This is a Sears Montrose as seen in the 1928 catalog.

But there's still more. This is a Sears Montrose as seen in the 1928 catalog.

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Several unusual featurse around the front door give this house a distinctive appearance.

Several unusual features around the front door give this house its distinctive appearance.

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Is this a Sears Montrose on Roanoke Avenue?

Is this a Sears Montrose on Roanoke Avenue? It's pretty close. Look at the pent roof that continues around that sunporch. And look at the details around the front porch.

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The Sears Maywood was one of their finer homes.

The Sears Maywood was one of their finer homes.

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This appears to be a Sears Maywood, tucked away behind the trees.

This appears to be a Sears Maywood, tucked away behind the trees.

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The Sears Westly was a very popular house for Sears.

The Sears Westly was a very popular house for Sears.

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And youve got a lovely Westly in Richmond!

And you've got a lovely Westly in Richmond!

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This was an interesting find: An older Sears House (pre-1916).

This was an interesting find: An older Sears House (pre-1916). This was model #190.

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And such a nice example!

And such a nice example!

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The Sears Strathmore has always been one of my favorites!

The Sears Strathmore has always been one of my favorites!

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And heres another perfect example of it!

And here's another perfect example of it!

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In addition to Sears, there were six other companies selling kit homes on a national level. One of them was Harris Brothers. They were based in Chicago and a much smaller company than Sears, so imagine my surprise at finding a HB house in Richmond!

In addition to Sears, there were six other companies selling kit homes on a national level. One of them was Harris Brothers. They were based in Chicago and a much smaller company than Sears, so imagine my surprise at finding a HB house in Richmond! This is Harris Brothers Model J-161 (1920 catalog).

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Nice match, isnt it!

Nice match, isn't it!

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In addition to Harris Brothers, there was a company called Lewis Manufacturing.

One of the more popular houses offered by Harris Brothers was this house, Model N-1000.

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Is this

Is this the N-1000 (shown above)? It's certainly a possibility. Although not visible in this photo, this house has the rounded front porch, as seen on the floorplan in the catalog image above.

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Another national kit home company was Gordon Van Tine. They were probably almost as big as Sears.

Another national kit home company was Gordon Van Tine. They were probably almost as big as Sears. Here's a picture of the Gordon Van Tine Home #507.

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And heres a perfect representation of #507. Gosh, what a fine-looking house. Photo is copyright 2010, Taber Andrew Bain and may not be used or reproduced.

And here's a perfect representation of #507. Gosh, what a fine-looking house. Photo is copyright 2010, Taber Andrew Bain and may not be used or reproduced.

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How many more kit homes are hiding in Richmond? Probably a bunch. These houses above represent a brief visit to Richmond.

I’d love to return to Richmond and do a more thorough job of finding these houses, but where to look?

To learn more about Rose, click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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“One of These Things is Not Like The Other…”

August 29th, 2012 Sears Homes 7 comments

My friend Rachel reminded me of this fun little ditty from Sesame Street, and suggested that perhaps a few of the 7.5 million people who *think* they have a Sears kit home should watch this video to learn a little more about the skills of observation.

You might want to click this link (Sesame Street video) while you scroll down to see the photos, because the music is so darn toe-tapping happy.

Take a look at this photo.

Houses

You may notice that one of these things is not like the others.

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Now let’s try it with houses.

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which

One of these houses is not like the others.

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Did you figure out which one is not “like the others”?

Actually, I’m just funnin’ with you. It’s not hard to figure this one out.

The three wooden-frame houses with the big two-story columns and the hipped roof and the gabled dormer and the oversized front porch deck and the six windows across the second-floor front and the big picture windows on the first floor front and the two exterior doors stacked over each other are the Sears Magnolia.

The brick house with the one-story columns and the gabled roof (no dormer) and the small front porch deck and the three windows across the second floor front and the four double-hung windows on the first floor front and the one exterior front door is a nice house (but not a Sears House) in Hopewell, Virginia.

When I first visited Hopewell in 2003, I was told that this was a “Modified Magnolia.” More recently, I was told that someone had “identified” this house as a Sears Lexington.

The kind owners gave me a thorough tour of the home’s interior. Having inspected this house from top to bottom (literally), I’m wholly confident that this is not a Sears House of any kind.

In Crescent Hills (a subdivision of Hopewell), you’ll find eight Sears Homes. Eight. Total.

And please note, this house (the brick house above) is not one of them.

I was crestfallen to hear that Old House Journal recently did a feature story on the Sears Homes in Hopewell. I haven’t had the heart to read it. I can only hope and pray that they focused on those eight Sears Homes in Crescent Hills, and not the make-believe Magnolia shown above.

To see more examples of the Sears Homes in Hopewell, click here.

To read more about the misidentified homes in Hopewell, click here (Part One), here (Part Two) and here (Part Three). (There are a lot of them!)

To read about the Aladdin Kit Homes in Hopewell, click here.

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South Carolina, Churlish Chiggers, and Fake Maggies

July 25th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Last month, I spent several days traveling in South Carolina. I visited many cities in the northern part of South Carolina but found very few Sears Homes. The highlight of the trip was Anderson, where I found several kit homes from Sterling Homes (a competitor to Sears).

Click here to see photos of those houses.

I did, however, find more than 20 chiggers. Or should I say, they found me. I was in Pumpkintown, SC merrily traipsing through a happy, happy meadow when I picked up Satan’s microscopic hitchhikers.

Suffice it to say, my sufferings in the next few days rivaled that of Job, who used pottery shards to relieve the itch of his sores. (Having endured this misery, I’m now convinced that old Job hisself got into a mess of chiggers.)

But I digress…

During an earlier trip to Blacksburg, South Carolina (February 2011), I’d visited the twin of the Sears Magnolia.

The house in Blacksburg turned out to be a fake Sears Magnolia. And yet, it was so close to the real thing. After spending three days at this fine house, I decided it could not be a Magnolia.

In retrospect, I believe it may have been an early pattern book house, and that the fine folks at Sears discovered this pattern book design and incorporated it into their “Book of Modern Homes,” calling it, The Magnolia.

The house in Blacksburg was built about 1910 (according to tax records), which also fits with my pattern book theory.

This “SCFM” (”South Carolina Faux Maggy”) is four feet wider and four feet longer than the Sears Magnolia, which is interesting (and also fits with the above theory). When Sears “borrowed” patters from other sources, they’d change the dimensions a bit, and in the case of the SCFM, it was a tiny bit too big for Sears purposes, so shrinking the footprint made a lot of sense.

One more interesting detail: The underside of the front porch (eaves) shows that there are ten brackets on the Sears Magnolia. The SCFM has eight brackets. The Magnolia’s dormer has four of these eave brackets. The SCFM has three. These are the kind of details that matter.

I seriously doubt the SCFM is the only one of its kind. Does your town have a fake Magnolia?

To read my favorite blog on the Sears Magnolia, click here. It’s an old carpenter telling about HOW he built a Magnolia in the 1920s.

To read about the sweet ride that carried me to old South Carolina, click here.

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The Sears Magnolia, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

The Sears Magnolia, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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And heres the SCFM in Blacksburg. Its NOT a Sears House, but it sure is close.

And here's the SCFM in Blacksburg. It's NOT a Sears House, but it sure is close.

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Really, really close.

Really, really close.

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I mean, cmon. You cant get much closer than this. And yet, this is not a Sears Magnolia. Sadly.

I mean, c'mon. You can't get much closer than this. And yet, this is not a Sears Magnolia. Sadly. All the details are just so darn close...

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Even has those distinctive marginal lites.

Even has those distinctive marginal lites.

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And the porch is a good match, too.

And the porch is a good match, too.

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One of the first thigns that caught my eye were these columns. Theyre concrete. The Sears Magnolia had hollow wooden columns (poplar). No kit house is going to come with concrete two-story Corinthian columns. The weight would be enormous. When I saw these columns I knew - this was not a kit home from Sears.

One of the first details that caught my eye were these columns. They're concrete. The Sears Magnolia had hollow wooden columns (poplar). No kit house is going to come with concrete two-story Corinthian columns. The weight would be enormous. When I saw these columns I knew - this was not a kit home from Sears.

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And its a beauty, too.

Minus the concrete columns, it's still such a good match.

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Inside the house, it has a Magnolia room!

Inside the house, it has a "Magnolia Room"! How apropos!

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The citys records show that this house was built in 1910, and those city records are not always right, but in this case, I suspect theyre close. The SCFM had a fireplace in every room and they were coal-burning fireplaces, which was typical for homes built in the first years of the 1900s.

The city's records show that this house was built in 1910, and oftimes, those city records are not always right, but in this case, I suspect they're close. The SCFM had a fireplace in every room and they were coal-burning fireplaces, which was typical for homes built in the first years of the 1900s. The Magnolia had two fireplaces, both wood-burning.

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This beautifully decorated house has a massive entry hall...

This beautifully decorated house has a massive entry hall, but that's one of the problems. The floorplan for this SCFM is NOT a good match to the Magnolia's floorplan. Plus, the Sears Magnolia had nine-foot ceilings. The ceilings in this house were 10' or more.

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The staircase in the real Magnolia is in a different spot.

The staircase in the real Magnolia is in a different spot. It's much closer to the front of the house, whereas the SCFM's staircase is much further back, and its hallway goes straight back to a rear entry door (unlike the floorplan above).

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In the end, I had to boldly declare that this was NOT a Sears Magnolia which made me very sad. However, it did tell me that this was probably a planbook house at some point. Now we just need to figure out WHICH plan book!

In the end, I had to boldly declare that this was NOT a Sears Magnolia which made me very sad. However, it did tell me that this was probably a planbook house at some point. Now we just need to figure out WHICH plan book!

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Also in Blacksburg, SC I found my favorite Alhambra of all time. Its LAVENDAR!

Also in Blacksburg, SC I found my favorite Alhambra of all time. It's LAVENDER!

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If you see this house, send me an email!

Such a beauty - but it's not from Sears.

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This is the real deal in Canton, Ohio.

This is the real deal in Canton, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2012 Janet Hess LaMonica and can not be used or reproduced without written permission. So there.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

To read more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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The Sears Homes of Beautiful Roanoke, Virginia

April 15th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In the 1960s, my family would make the long trek from Portsmouth (Virginia) to Douthat State Park for our once-a-year vacation.

Ever since I first laid eyes on Douthat (in Clifton Forge) and the Blue Ridge Mountain area, I have been head-over-heels in love. In 1994, my husband and I decided to move to the Lynchburg/Roanoke area, but you know what they say about the “best-laid plans of men.”

We overshot the mountains and ended up living in St. Louis for 12 years. (Long story.) In 2006, I moved back to Hampton Roads and that’s been my home since then.

One day, I will get to the mountains. One day.

In the meantime, I’ll simply admire the mountains “from afar.”

Below are several kit homes that I’ve found in Roanoke (with a lot of help from my dear friend Dale Wolicki).

What were kit homes? These were 12,000-piece kits, sold out of the Sears Roebuck catalog in the early 1900s. Sears promised that “a man of average abilities” could have one of these kits built in 90 days.

Click here to learn more about Sears Homes.

Click here to buy Rose’s latest book on Sears Homes.

A picture of my brother Tom Fuller at Douthat in 1960.

A picture of my brother (Tom Fuller) at Douthat (Clifton Forge) in 1960.

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First, one of my favorite houses in Roanoke: The Sears Alhambra!

First, one of my favorite houses in Roanoke: The Sears Alhambra!

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And here it is, in all its shining splendor: The Sears Alhambra

And here it is, in all its shining splendor: The Sears Alhambra. I wonder if the owners know that they have a Sears House? And this one is in wonderful condition!

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Another beautiful Sears House is the Americus.

Another beautiful Sears House is the Americus.

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And its right there in Roanoke! What a sweet-looking Americus!

And it's right there in Roanoke! What a sweet-looking Americus!

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The Sears Fullerton was another big and beautiful house.

The Sears Fullerton was another big and beautiful house.

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This Fullerton (on Rugby Avenue) had a porte cochere added.

This Fullerton (on Rugby Avenue) had a porte cochere added.

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In addition to Sears, Roanoke has kit homes from several other national kit home companies, such as Montgomery Ward, Harris Brothers, Sterling and Aladdin. Heres a picture of the Aladdin Sheffield as seen in the 1919 catalog.

In addition to Sears, Roanoke has kit homes from several other national kit home companies, such as Montgomery Ward, Harris Brothers, Sterling and Aladdin. Here's a picture of the Aladdin Sheffield as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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This beautiful Sheridan (offered by Aladdin Kit Homes of Bay City, MI) is on Berkley Street in Roanoke.

This beautiful Sheridan (offered by Aladdin Kit Homes of Bay City, MI) is on Berkley Street in Roanoke. Notice the oversized dormers and the bumped-out vestibule.

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The Marsden was another very popular house for Aladdin.

The Marsden was another very popular house for Aladdin.

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nice

Unfortunately, between the landscaping and the truck, it's tough to see, but there's no doubt that that's an Aladdin Marsden hidden away back there.

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And from the front.

And from the front.

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The Inverness was a very rare house, and Ive never seen one anywhere - but in Roanoke.

The Inverness (offered by Aladdin) was a very rare house, and I've never seen one anywhere - but in Roanoke. Notice the many angles on the roofline!

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Is this an Inverness? If so, its been supersized.

Is this an Inverness? If so, it's been supersized. It certainly is a good match.

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The Aladdin Detroit, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Detroit, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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And heres a near-perfect match!

An Aladdin Detroit - in brick!

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The Aladdin Florence was a hugely popular house for Aladdin.

The Aladdin Florence was a hugely popular house for Aladdin.

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This Aladdin Florence on Hunt Avenue

This Aladdin Florence on Hunt Avenue is a good match to the original catalog picture.

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As mentioned above, in addition to kit homes from Aladdin, Roanoke also has kit homes from Montgomery Ward.

As mentioned above, in addition to kit homes from Aladdin, Roanoke also has kit homes from Montgomery Ward.

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Heres a sweet little Mayflower in Roanoke.

A Mayflower in Roanoke. This photo was taken four years ago, so this house may have changed a bit since then. Looks a little rough around the edges here.

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In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Montgomery Ward, Roanoke also has houses sold by Sterling Homes (Bay City, MI). Pictured is the Sterling Rembrandt, from the early 1920s catalog.

In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Montgomery Ward, Roanoke also has houses sold by Sterling Homes (Bay City, MI). Pictured is the Sterling Rembrandt, from the early 1920s catalog.

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A sweet Dutch Colonial: The Sterling Rembrandt!

A sweet Dutch Colonial: The Sterling Rembrandt!

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

Want to learn more about Wardway Homes? Click here!

To read about the Sears Homes in Clifton Forge, click here.

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The Niota: 1200 Square Feet For $942

April 12th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Not a bad deal to buy 1,200 square feet of kit house for less than $1,000, even in 1916!

The Sears Niota - despite its being a good value and a cute house - was not a popular model for Sears.  And yet, according to a small promotional ad that appeared in the 1916 catalog, the Niota had been built in Elmhurst, IN, Westerville, Ohio, Indianapolis, IN, Napleton, MN and Springfield, MO.

And in Wood River, Illinois, too.

The house was offered in StoneKote, which was Sears own stucco-type covering. As with most of the kit homes, buyers could opt for stucco, block, brick, stone or wood. Today, way too many of these homes are now covered with substitute sidings (such as aluminum or vinyl), which makes identification even more difficult.

To read more about the many Sears Homes in Wood River (and Amoco), click here.

Niota

One might hope that those columns are a unique feature to help in identifying the Sears Niota, and yet sometimes, they get removed (1916 catalog).

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Niota catalog 1916

The kitchen was so small you'd have to step out to the porch to change your mind. Lots of rooms on this first floor, and they're all pretty modest.

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niota fp

At least the bedrooms have closets. That's a plus.

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niota

Close-up of the Sears Niota.

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niota wood river

And here it is, in Wood River, Illinois. Notice that those unique columns have been chopped off at the roofline and also covered in that hideous house-hiding PVC material, known as "vinyl siding." The original columns - poking through the porch ceiling as they did - were probably prone to roof leaks and all manner of maintenance problems.

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Niota more

Niotas were built in several places in the Midwest. It'd be fun to see pictures of these Niotas.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about my Aunt Addie, click here.

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The Sears Houses That Pat Found (in Ohio)!

February 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

Two years ago, when my last computer burped twice and fell over dead, I recovered 35,000 photos from the hard drive. That was two years ago. Since then, I’ve added many more photos, and I’ve received (via email) several hundred photos. Sometimes, it takes me a while to get those photos organized and posted here at the website.

Pat of Ohio sent me these wonderful photos of kit homes in Ohio almost a year ago. They’re wonderful pictures, but even better than the pictures is the note she sent along.

Without your books, we would never have found such excitement and joy! Every time we spot another kit house, whether it be a Sears or an Aladdin, we get so excited! Of course, if my son is with us he just cringes when he sees the camera come out, because he knows many photos will be taken and his trip home will be delayed!

He now has a standard question before we leave the house: “Are you guys going to be looking at more houses? Because if you are, I’m staying here. You guys are obsessed!”

Below are a few of the kit homes that Pat found in Ohio.

First, the catalog page. Heres the Sears Windsor, also known as the Sears Carlin, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Here's the Sears Windsor, also known as the Sears Carlin (1919 catalog).

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Sears Windsor in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Sears Windsor in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Kilborn, from the 1928 catalog.

Sears Kilbourne, from the 1928 catalog.

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Sears Kilborn, also in Willoughby Hills, Ohio.

Sears Kilborn, also in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Americus, from the 1928 catalog.

Sears Americus, from the 1928 catalog.

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Sears Americus in Willoughby, Ohio.

Sears Americus in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Conway, from 1921.

Sears Conway, from 1921.

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Heres a darling Conway tucked behind the trees in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

Here's a darling Conway tucked behind the trees in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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One of my favorites, the Dover, from 1928.

One of my favorites, the Dover, from 1928.

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And here it is in Mentor, Ohio.

And here it is in Mentor, Ohio. Still has its original batten shutters! Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Rodessa, from the 1928 catalog.

The Sears Rodessa, from the 1928 catalog.

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The Sears Rodessa in Mayfield Heights, Ohios.

The Sears Rodessa in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Westly, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

Sears Westly, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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Apparently, Mentor Ohio has many Sears Homes, such as this Westly. And so many of these homes have their original siding! entor Ohio.

Apparently, Mentor Ohio has many Sears Homes, such as this Westly. And so many of these homes have their original siding and railings. This is a real beauty. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another favorite of mine, The Willard, a classic neo-tudor (1928 catalog).

Another favorite of mine, The Willard, a classic neo-tudor (1928 catalog).

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Altered, but still identifiable.

Altered, but still identifiable. One of the classic features of the Willard are those three windows on the left (in this photo). This house is in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Barrington was also a popular house (1928 catalog).

The Sears Barrington was also a popular house (1928 catalog).

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And this sweet thing is in Willoughby.

And this sweet thing is in Willoughby. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Pat also found a house by Harris Brothers (a competitor of Sears). The J-181 was a very popular house for Harris Brothers.

Pat also found a house by Harris Brothers (a competitor of Sears). The J-181 was a very popular house for Harris Brothers.

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And heres the J-181 in Hudson, Ohio.

And here's the J-181 in Hudson, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To keep reading about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn how to identify kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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